Catholic Herald staff
Sixth-grade students at Cathedral School, Superior, collaborated with South Shore sixth-graders in Port Wing on a creative writing project. Instead of designing a school newspaper, the group collaborated on a magazine on topics related to Lake Superior.
The project grew from Cathedral School teacher Helena Ripley’s “desire to have students collaborate with diverse groups of peers, as well as authentically apply writing and editing skills to their work.”
Ripley reached out to her sister, Brigid, South Shore School District business education teacher, to bring the idea to reality. With both sisters teaching groups of sixth-grade students for the 2017-18 academic year, they felt that Helena’s writing skills and Brigid’s design and photography experience would complement a newsmagazine project.
Having grown up in Northern Minnesota with a love of nature and strong emphasis on education, they were motivated to share their love and passion for Lake Superior with their students.
In the magazine’s advisor’s note, Brigid shared that the sisters’ participation in a 2017 Rivers2Lake internship had reignited her “desire to take learning beyond the classroom and to connect with other students around the lake.”
The project had a multifaceted objective: to create a product that responds to local issues utilizing business and language arts standards.
Business standards addressed included working collaboratively with others to address problems that arose and using technology effectively to develop and disseminate a project, as well as interacting efficiently through multiple means of communication.
Language arts standards incorporated included writing for a specific purpose and audience; utilizing the writing process over an extended period of time; conducting research using multiple resources; evaluating evidence; and organizing writing to support a position.
Cathedral students researched and wrote submissions. South Shore students, in turn, read and edited the submissions and designed the pages.
There were informative articles on Lake Superior tides, currents and water levels, news items and stories of people whose lives were lost on the lake, and a story of the discovery of a large sunken vessel near the Apostle Islands.
A printing company in the South Shore district printed the first semester volume, and copies of the publication made their way to Washington, D.C., and Lake Superior Estuarine Research Reserve.
Two of the participating students from Cathedral School were asked to share their experience.
Lily Poskozim, who loves wolves and wants to be famous someday, said:
“I love writing essays. Whenever we write essays in class, I practically jump for joy. When we got to publish our essays, I was overjoyed … I had so much fun writing about riptides and invasive species. I was a little sad when we had to do other writing instead of the essays we did for the magazine.”
Alayna DeGraef plays softball and the clarinet in addition to enjoying water sports on Lake Superior. She said that what she liked best about the project was, “We got a glimpse of what to do or is required for writing a magazine.
“For example, we learned that you should have a person who takes photos to make the articles pretty, that you should have someone whose job it is to edit and revise writing, and that everyone needs to help everyone else. I also learned how to write a bio.”
Diocesan school superintendent Peggy Schoenfuss saw the project as “a fantastic learning experience and an awesome use of resources.” Ripley provided the students with “a wonderful, hands-on learning experience,” Schoenfuss said.